Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Selective assortments can be a weapon against Amazon, and they will work in certain categories. We have all heard the sentiment of not trying to out-Amazon Amazon. That won't work for any company except possibly Walmart, so why clutter your website with thousands of items?
  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    Aldi shoppers are getting curbside pickup, but do they want it?

    The operative word here is "pilot." It is a good thing to test and decide. The fact that this is a pilot does not imply that customers want it; it will help determine if customers want it. It's the way major decisions should be made.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Can AR help shoppers get where they need to go?

    Getting around malls and large stores is a challenge. Having to bury one's nose in a screen while walking around is not a good idea. AR is better used in a stationary environment.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018 to offer easier returns for marketplace purchases

    It won't be a game-changer but it is a way for Walmart to woo third-party sellers away from other sites and onto its own.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Party City to run pilot with Amazon, ‘the world’s largest and most trafficked mall’

    It makes strategic sense for Party City to offer the limited assortment on Amazon, i.e. a select number of the higher-priced items.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2018

    Consortium is made-to-order for people who want customized brands

    This discussion evokes memories of seamstresses and tailors. Remember them? This is what they did, but on a scale of one! Technology may help to enable the likes of Consortium to scale the concept but I am skeptical about making this an affordable proposition. By definition, customization means lowering the efficiency in manufacture. So how is this concept going to be affordable?
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    We have thrown a lot of new technology at the consumer in the last five years and we continue that trend. It takes time and a desire to try new things before they become generally adopted by the consuming public. Voice ordering will happen over time, with the upcoming younger generations eventually making it mundane. There is a possibility, however, that if customers are not allowed to specify brand or re-order (the previously-ordered brand), external forces may decide what they want the consumer to buy. CPG brands may start paying online retailers for preferred placement on voice-ordering systems like they do on supermarket shelves.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Can retail compete for computer science graduates?

    Let's see ... The strongest selling points? Traditionally, retail has been one of the most frugal of industries. Once you get into retail, it gets under your skin and it's hard to get out. (No one in the industry understands why this is so, but most everyone agrees.) It can be one of the most frustrating ongoing industries (and has been for thousands of years ... ). There you have it. Why would anyone want to work anywhere else?
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Where does art end and retail begin?

    The product, the store design and even specific entertainment can all be considered art; the retail part comes at the point of sale.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Starbucks prepares for a Bitcoin future

    We are just preparing our quarterly newsletter in which this is a topic. We forecast the use of blockchain in retail for business transactions in the next five to seven years, but acceptance of cryptocurrency will come just after that. With all the digital payment systems available today not involving cash, there is no immediate need for consumers to make payments using cryptocurrencies.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Kroger takes on Visa

    Let Kroger enable Apple Pay. The tender is gaining in popularity and it's faster than anything out there. Then Kroger doesn't have to worry about whose cards it will and won't accept.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Will in-home 3D scanner drive online clothing sales?

    This technology is going to be in many homes at affordable prices in five to seven years. It is not going to happen tomorrow, but it will become part of many households and, in the process, become an integral part of the apparel e-commerce process.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Empty malls spelled the end for Brookstone stores

    Given the business in which Brookstone was supposed to be, that is, cool and useful gadgetry, it appears to be more about execution of a neat concept than about declining mall traffic. Yes, traffic has been down in malls but if it had the right product mix (read: unique and attractive), and the stores are exciting, Brookstone could do better. When a Warby Parker announces the expansion of its brick-and-mortar footprint through new mall locations, why shouldn't Brookstone be able to thrive?
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    What can retailers do about consumer’s AI concerns?

    Some of what can be accomplished with AI will appear as spooky and/or intrusive to those who are not used to the technology or value their independence to make their own decisions. Retailers ought to monitor consumer reactions to AI-based campaigns and other offerings lest there be a backlash reaction to AI if perceived as over-the-top.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Does Five Below make sense for 5th Ave?

    There is always a question about maintaining the character of a neighborhood, whether residential or commercial. However, market conditions sometimes force changes. The discounter probably doesn't belong in the upscale district. If other landlords are not happy, they should make sure to not lease space to these retailers that would detract from the character and clientele of the area. It is also possible that Five Below won't thrive in that neighborhood.

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